Adapted from Mediterranean Hot and Spicy (Broadway Books)
Horiatiki, that has inspired the ubiquitous Greek Salad, is scented with dried, wild oregano or savory, and doused with plenty of fruity olive oil. It might also contain salted sardines, and was often made more substantial with the addition of stale bread or crumbled paximadia (barley rusks), which soak up the delicious juices.
Read HERE the story and roots of this iconic salad.
Serves 6 to 8
4 cups paximadia (barley rusks) in bite-size pieces (or stale, toasted, good quality multi-grain bread)
2 pounds summer ripe and firm tomatoes that have not been refrigerated (big or small, any color or a combination of different heirloom tomatoes)
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons capers, drained
1 cup purslane leaves (optional)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped tender arugula, flat-leaf parsley, or a combination of parsley and fresh oregano or thyme
2 1/2 cups diced feta cheese
1 tablespoon dry Greek oregano
1/2 cup fruity good olive oil, or more
1-2 pickled chilies, minced (optional)
Zest of 1 non-treated lemon (optional)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Spread the paximadia or bread at the bottom of a salad bowl or container. Using serrated knife, slice the tomatoes into roughly 1 1/2–inch pieces and scatter them over the paximadia, letting the juices penetrate the bread. Arrange the onion rings and purslane (if using) over the tomatoes, sprinkle the capers and other herbs, over the onions. Top with the feta and sprinkle with the oregano.
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil with the chilies and lemon zest (if using), along with a few cracks of black pepper and some salt — keeping in mind that capers and feta are quite salty so you may not need extra.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let stand for one hour in a cool place. If you won’t serve it within the hour and the weather is hot, let the salad rest in the refrigerator.
Toss thoroughly just before serving.